After an impressive career which spanned four countries and saw him make over 450 senior club appearances, former Argentine forward Maxi Lopez is now reportedly on the verge of buying Championship club Birmingham City.
Alongside Blues fan and businessman Paul Richardson, Lopez is the head of a consortium now set to announce that they will acquire the Midlands-based football club after ex-Watford chairman Laurence Bassini missed his deadline of exclusivity to make a deal work.
After slipping to six consecutive seasons of finishing 17th or below in England’s second-flight under current chairman Wenqing Zhao, Birmingham fans will quite rightly welcome a new owner as they dream of a Premier League return.
That said, with relatively little known about Lopez’s role in the takeover, both a sense of intrigue and concern currently surrounds St. Andrews.
In this article, we take a look through Maxi Lopez’s footballing career, what he’s done after football and where the money for this Birmingham takeover will come from.
Maxi Lopez career: From River Plate and Catania to Barcelona and Milan
Born in Buenos Aires in Argentina, like many other footballers from the same area, Lopez came through the ranks of decorated club River Plate in his early career.
At the age of just 17, Lopez made his senior debut for the club in 2001 and would then go on to make 70 appearances for the club across all competitions, netting 16 goals in that time.
Such was his talent at a young age, European giants Barcelona came calling and in January 2005 Lopez made the move to Spain for €6.2 million (£5.3m). His career with the Catalan side didn’t go to plan though, and despite scoring four minutes into his debut against Chelsea in the Champions League, he only ended up making 19 appearances for the club in total, leaving for FC Moscow on a permanent deal in 2007.
Spells with Gremio, Catania, Milan and Sampdoria, amongst others, followed until Lopez finally announced his retirement from football in 2021. In total, Lopez ended up making 418 club appearances across his career, netting 110 goals as well as representing his country of Argentina over 30 times at youth level.
Why do Maxi Lopez and Mauro Icardi dislike each other?
As well as playing in high profile leagues such as Serie A and La Liga, Lopez is also well-known for his bust up with former teammate Mauro Icardi who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain.
This stems from that fact that Lopez’s former wife Wanda Nara, who he was married to for five years and has three children with, went on to marry Icardi.
Lopez and Icardi had been very close friends after spending time playing together at Italian club Sampdoria. According to reports, Lopez would invite his fellow countryman on holiday with his family and even opened his house to Icardi when the striker first moved to Europe from his native Argentina.
Reports of infidelity led to Lopez refusing to shake Icardi’s hand in a match between Sampdoria and Inter Milan in 2014, leading the press to dub the game the ‘Wanda derby’.
Icardi and Nara have since been married for eight years.
What has Maxi Lopez done after his football career and where has his money for this Birmingham City takeover come from?
In truth, not a lot is known about what Lopez has done since he retired from football in 2021.
He’s said to have a keen interest in business and is a partner with compatriot Christian Codoma in a company called Maxco Capital - Codoma is also part of the consortium to buy Birmingham.
Lopez also made a healthy salary as a player due to his big moves and contracts and has a social media following of over two million subscribers.
However, it’s likely that most of the necessary funds to fuel this takeover of Birmingham City are coming from fellow business partner Paul Richardson.
Richardson reportedly made his money from being a shareholder and ex-chairman of fitness apparel company Gymshark and now owns a business in the fashion sector.
🗣 "We believe we can do big work in the City, for our fans and for the team."— Football Daily (@footballdaily) July 19, 2022
Former Barcelona player Maxi Lopez and Paul Richardson are confident in their Birmingham City takeover pic.twitter.com/Jf9k0UeLCD
What happens next in the Birmingham City takeover?
As of the morning of July 19, Lopez and Richardson have stated that they have now been issued with their own exclusivity period in order to complete a deal to own Birmingham.
It’s not known when that period is set to end, though Richardson has confirmed that the pair have already exchanged contracts over the proposed takeover.
Richardson also stated to media this morning that he and Lopez are hoping to conclude a deal for the Midlands club ‘within the next three weeks.'
Speaking to Sky Sports, Richardson said: “We exchanged contracts on Saturday after many months. We paid our deposit on Monday and now we’re in today to start our work to find out how the club works - our due diligence.”
Before continuing to say; “We’ll then wait for EFL approval, which could take a couple, three weeks maybe, and then we go to completion.”
Lopez then added; “It’s a happy day for us and all the Blues fans. It’s our money. I was working for this for almost one year. I think it’s a huge project. There is too much potential in this team.”